Wan Chai food shop

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 16:36
Date picture taken
1 Nov 1987


Hi There,

This stall was selling soy related goods.  Say, various kinds of beat curd, beat sprouts, etc.


Hi T

Soy and similar food products are still not widely available in England but they are gradually becoming more popular as they become recognised as a healthy alternative to meat.  As a young man in Hong Kong, way back In 1957/8 foods like that - and many other delicious Chinese foods - were treated by me and my friends with some suspicion.  Curried eggs was to some of my pals really exotic and not to be trusted!  Now, of course, people throughout much of the world have been exposed to foreign foods. In Britain, foreign foods are often modified to please our different national palates.  I read recently, but don't know whether it is strictly accurate, that in the 1960s or 70s, because the farming in the New a Territories was in serious decline, many of the farmers were given financial help to emigrate to Britain where they set up restaurants and take-always. And because most of those people were not primarily cooks the quality of the food that they prepared was nothing like genuine Cantonese cuisine.  On the other hand, it could well be that, as stated above, recipes had to be modified to accommodate our tastes.  The same argument is probably true of all the other 'ethnic' restaurants that now operate in this country.

best wishes Andrew

Hello Andrew, did you read this page http://gwulo.com/node/6191 talking about NT farmers becoming cooks in the UK in the 1960s?

This may very well be true, but some of the Chinese takeaway/restaurant owners overseas I talk to allude to a different decision to make: they had no foreign language skills worth speaking of and not many were needed as farmers overseas.  What comparative advantage did they have that could make them the most money?  Chinese food.  Many started out as kitchen hands first and when they saved enough, graduate to their own restaurant(s).


Hello breskvar,

Yes,I think it must have been on Gwulo.  I totally agree with your analysis of what was a driving force for them.  On the whole, the immigrants from the rural New Territories did a very good job and gave most of the British people a taste of foreign food for the first time.  It's immaterial that it was not completely authentic Cantonese cooking as that would probably not have been very palatable to most British tastes - as I once commented previously.  Outside the really big cities, even macaronui and cheese was a daringly foreign food right into the 1950s!  In 1954 there were, as far as I know, just 3 Chinese restaurants in Manchester - the Ping Hongs - all owned by the same family.  I have a feeling that they were already established before the war and I suspect that they might have beeopened by some enterprising owners of Chinese launderies, which were experiencing a drop in business, who saw an excellent marketing opportunity.  Now there is a thriving Chinese quarter, possibly as big as the China Town in London and the restaurants serve food much more like genuine Cantonese. I believe that in Britain there are now far more restaurants specialising in foreign food than in traditional English food and the rise of the 'Indian' restaurants coulde probably have a similar origin.  We are lucky to have such an international cuisine - even if it modified for our taste buds.  In fact my easy meal this evening was crispy duck and prawn crackers bought ready to microwave from one of the large supermarkets!

Best wishes,  Andrew

Best wishes, Andrew